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Notable Women Leaders in the United States History

In the history of humanity, there have always been people whose ideas and actions outstrip those of their contemporaries. Irrespective of their age or gender, they have become the embodiment of goodness, courage, nobility, honesty, loyalty, and dedication to their country due to their outstanding deeds and personal characteristics. Such notable American women as Rosa Parks, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Dorothea Dix, Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Chase Smith, and many other women leaders greatly contributed to the prosperity and development of their country.

Power, domination, ascendancy, and supremacy are frequently used as equivalents of the word “leadership”. However, a plethora of psychological investigations and behavioral studies has not completely revealed the nature of leadership yet. Scholars, theorists, practitioners, and ordinary people endeavor to estimate why some people are able to inspire and motivate others and whether they have inherited or developed the ability to manage others. For the purposes of numerous leadership-related studies, it was assumed that the concepts of situational leadership theory, transformational leadership theory, servant leadership theory, social learning theory, ethics, needs theory, and role theory are all interrelated and help define a template for leadership that is flexible and comprehensive of personal needs while encouraging personal development and goal attainment. The diversity of these theories has created a complex web of patterns and/or concepts regarding issues surrounding leadership.


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People transfer their hopes, expectations, needs, and fears to leaders, empowering and making them responsible for outcomes (Flynn). Although members of ethnic minorities had immigrated and settled in the USA in order to improve their life and well-being, they faced numerous manifestations of social and economic inequality. Suffering from civil limitations posed by racial segregation, African Americans perceived Rosa Parks as a personality capable of defending their rights and freedoms. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913 – 2005) was an American public person, who became a symbol of struggle for “freedom and equality and prosperity and peace in the world” (Scraff 109). She was awarded a gold medal by the US Congress to honor her as the “first lady of civil rights” and the “mother of the freedom movement''.

Rosa Parks was born in the family of Leona Edwards, a teacher at church-run schools, and James McCauley, a carpenter, in Alabama in 1913. Social inequality and racial segregation were characteristic features of the American society at that time. Social inequality is a form of social differentiation, which is expressed in unequal living conditions. The major social inequalities involve mechanisms of income and wealth, housing, education, medical treatment, employment, family, and politics. Furthermore, social inequality facing African Americans was interconnected with wealth or economic, gender, and racial inequality. Moreover, the terrorist organization of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was very active in the Southern states during Rosa’s childhood (Scraff 15). Therefore, she faced constant threats of attacks, violence, and arson since her early years.

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Studying and education were highly valued in Rosa’s family. Aspired to vote in the presidential election in 1940, Rosa Parks took the literacy test in order to register to vote. However, despite her knowledge and correct answers, she failed to pass the test. “The white politicians found many legal ways to avoid obeying the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution” (Scraff 6). In 1943, Rosa Parks’ refusal to obey the US segregation laws was supported by the entire community of African Americans. Most African Americans perceived social inequality and racial segregation as displays of injustice. Social inequality and social stratification of society led to an increase in social intensity. Economic interests of various social groups are non-uniform and often resist each other. The social stratification of the US society aggravated contradictions between interests of African Americans and the Whites resulting in disintegration of the country. Therefore, Parks’ act of defiance and civil initiatives were supported and shared by all progressive citizens both nationwide and globally.

The names of Dorothea Lynde Dix and Dorothy Wylie are associated with healthcare reforms and nursing leadership. Although Dorothea Lynde Dix lived in the 19th century while Dorothy Wylie was still alive, they both greatly contributed to the development of health care and nursing leadership.

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Brain disorders are a serious and frequently encountered clinical issue. They interfere with most aspects of humans’ well-being, affect the way people think, function, and behave; they can disable an individual and impair health. In the 19th century, living conditions of the insane were significantly aggravated by their legal and economic statuses. In order to draw public attention to problems of the insane and provide impoverished mental patients with relevant legal support, Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802 – 1887) initiated and promoted radical changes in treatment of mentally ill patients. Since 1842, she investigated treatment of the insane in Massachusetts prisons, places of correction, state penitentiaries, county jails, and almshouses. “Through her singlehanded efforts, public perception of the insane changed as they were gradually distinguished from criminals and derelicts and placed in state institutions mandated to care for them” (Rothman et al. 352).

Dorothy Wylie’s contribution to the development of nursing leadership is recognized and highly valued in the USA and Canada. An immediate and urgent need for opportunities for nurses’ leadership development has become increasingly obvious today. It is necessary to change significantly leadership roles and practices to develop leadership skills and abilities of personnel at all levels of health care institutions to reduce the current shortage of nurses in general and nursing faculty in particular. Leadership development is an essential component of a complex strategy to overwhelm current problems in health care.

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Being developed by Dorothy M. Wylie, a model of nursing education provides solution to the current issues of nursing shortage in general and nursing faculty shortage in particular.

Due to the importance of the mentioned above issues, the Dorothy Wylie Nursing Leadership Institute offers a solution to the problem of the nursing faculty shortage by developing nursing leadership. The Institute was named after Dorothy M. Wylie in recognition of her innovative leadership in several senior nursing positions in Ontario and her outstanding work in various aspects of nursing leadership during her professorship at the Faculty of Nursing, Toronto University. Initial funding for the Institute was obtained from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The Nursing leadership Network of Ontario, an interest group of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, supported and sponsored the Institute. Several private health care companies also provided complimentary services.

The Dorothy Wylie Nursing Leadership Institute’s training model contemplates the development of nursing leadership by organizing co-education of an established leader and an emerging leader together preferably from the same setting so that mentoring can continue after the course. Consequently, one of them has to be in a position to educate and mentor the other one. This is a particular feature of the institute’s leadership development model, which is considered to be an opportunity to recognize emergent leaders and begin an intentional process to help them develop.

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Leaders have to be dynamic and adaptable to meet the needs of their profession, patients, and the nature of health. The curriculum at the Dorothy Wylie Leadership Institute is flexible, it is designed in accordance with nursing leaders’ needs, and education is aimed at leadership development. Students take an active part in individual and group discussions of skills and areas of development. Faculty, facilitators, and the attendees participate as partners in learning. Self-reflecting learning is deliberate and widely supported in all activities.

Throughout the course, attendees work in small collaborative groups and use their individual and group learning in planning and undertaking home based projects, that is an obligatory part of the educational program at the Institute. The projects are clustered into four main theme-oriented groups: Care Delivery, Healthy Workplace, Personal/Professional/Team Development, and Business of Healthcare.

Diverse client groups participate in the program at university nursing faculty, staff nurses, Chief Nursing Officers, managers, and program directors. Taking into account the indisputable importance of human life and health, each medical worker is obliged to possess knowledge corresponding to his/her position, specialization, and rank. The model offered by the Dorothy Wylie Nursing Leadership Institute promotes an improvement on qualifications of medical staff and reveals a person’s potential for one’s further professional self-realization. This model is viewed as a huge mast for mentoring dissertation students on board the ship of health care. The harmonious parity of education, practice and development makes the Dorothy Wylie Nursing Leadership Institute one of the best establishments in both Canadian and global health care.

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Efficiency of the US government activities directly depends on its members’ competences; those involve their positions, cultural level, professionalism, education, knowledge, morals, life experience, and style of his/her duties performance. Furthermore, congressmen’s service requires enthusiasm, honesty, loyalty, and deep understanding of obligations. American voters elect their best representatives to the US House and/or the US Senate to promote national welfare and prosperity, strengthen economy, determine home and foreign policy, protect rights, and support freedoms of citizens. “The contemporary American public strongly endorses Congress’s place in the system” (Mayhew 261).

Margaret Madeline Chase Smith (1897 – 1995) was the first woman in the US history who won election to both the US House and the US Senate. Her previous political experience gained at different levels of management and administration (she managed the office of her husband elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives and served as the president of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Maine), as well as respect of voters and outstanding personal characteristics, allowed  her to perform her duties honourably.

Representing interests of Maine’s voters, Margaret Smith’s initiatives, programs, and proposals were designed and implemented to protect rights and freedoms of various social groups. She aspired to promote legislative proposals in order to improve life of all Americans. In addition, “Smith was an active member of the Naval Affairs and Armed Services Committees. Her position gave her power to award shipbuilding projects in Maine. It also made her an expert on military and national security matters, leading to her participation in an investigation of the construction of destroyers and the inspection of bases in the South Pacific”  (Women in Congress). Margaret Smith’s deeds and activities testify to her goal-orientation, honesty, discernment, competence, creativity, loyalty, and dedication to her voters. She was able to involve people in diverse activities, creating a highly motivating environment and assisting them to determine objectives and reach them. Her leadership style was approved by the Americans in general and Maine residents in particular. Leadership is a process that occurs in a group setting. Today, leadership is identified as a phenomenon that can occur in various places within an organization or business unit and is no longer focused only on formal leadership roles. Leadership is crucial to all careers and jobs due to the unprecedented and tumultuous changes in management and the demand for leaders to improve economic conditions and people’s welfare both locally and globally

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Today, females’ top priorities have changed from care for children, housework, fashionable outfits, and cooking delicious courses to social activities and political careers over the last decades. Despite differences in their background, education, individual characteristics, and leadership styles, American women handle positions of authority and successfully manage big companies. Although Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s names are the most frequently associated with a 2012 presidential election today, they both greatly contributed to the USA domestic policy and foreign affairs. Today, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s political careers have become the very embodiment of female opportunities to achieve their dreams, gain independence, and public recognition, and influence the whole country regardless distinctions between them.

These outstanding women differ in their origin, family details, age, political careers, and emotional intelligence, styles of leadership, as well as general perception of and public attitude to them.

“Hillary Clinton’s life had been unlike that of any other woman in American history, yet she was also very typical of that whole generation of postwar feminists who had intended to both change everything and have it all” (Collins 226). Although Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947 - ) has actively participated in social and political activities since her youth, she became famous with the wide public after her husband, Bill Clinton, had been elected the President of the USA. The endless list of her achievements and accomplishments include such positions as a super achiever at an all-female college, the first female lawyer in her firm, a founder of Arkansas Advocates For Children and Families, the head of ill-fated Health Care Task Force, the first female senator from the state of New York, a promoter of human rights in general and women’s rights in particular, “the first secretary of state to renew diplomatic talks with Cuba”, etc. (Commire & Klezmer, 2007; Collins, 2009, Epstein 6). Hillary Clinton is considered to be the most active and influential first lady in the history of the American Presidency. Her education and individual characteristics predetermined her career achievements and public perception of her personality.

Sarah Louise Palin (1964 - ) is one of the most controversial and intensively debated persons on the US political stage. Her political career is less multifaceted but more impetuous compared to that of Hillary Clinton. Moreover, Palin’s living experiences and political activities are frequently accompanied by critical discussions, offensive conclusions, invidious claims, and even scandals. 

Sarah Palin served as the Wasilla City Council member, the mayor of Wasilla, the head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and the governor of Alaska. Though a very few Americans heard of Sarah Palin due to Alaska’s remoteness, in 2008, having started his presidential campaign, the senior US Senator from Arizona, “John McCain, suddenly announced that his vice presidential pick was Sarah Palin” (Collins 229). Her enthusiasm, endeavors, political convictions, diligence, and even conservatism were appreciated by the American voters. In addition, Palin was young and attractive; her handsome husband, a lifelong Alaskan, and five children, one of whom was born with Down syndrome, added a compassionate element to her image, and caused general sympathy and affinity. Therefore, she was perceived as a new American heroine and supported by numerous “social conservatives who formed the Republican Party’s most important base” (Collins 229).

Both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are responsible, intelligent, goal-oriented, ambitious, dedicated to social issues, and well aware of their competence, importance, and moral imperatives women. They advocate women’s rights, promote new reforms, aspire to revitalize the society, protect health, and improve the whole country. However, while Hillary Clinton has become an icon of loyalty and allegiance after the notorious scandal connected with her husband’s adultery, Palin is accused of numerous sins including drug addiction, family destruction, power abuse, and fornication.

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The book “The rogue: searching for the real Sarah Palin” published by Joe McGinniss exposes Palin as a faithless wife and an extremely conservative, racism oriented, ignorant, and thoroughly corrupt official. Despite the author’s statements were not officially confirmed and they are grounded on anonymous sources and cannot be evaluated as reliable, the book provoked intense debates and made a deleterious impact on the public attitude to Palin. Though negative attitude to Plain is mainly based on arraignments fabricated by her opponents, a politician’s image should correspond to morals and principles of the society. This requirement is especially vital for those who are in the top ranks of politics, whose private life and social activity are the objects of constant and special attention of the mass media and millions of citizens. Patriotism, loyalty, honesty, morality, self-consistency, proficiency, and respect for others are obligatory characteristics of a modern political leader.

In order to promote their political beliefs and expand supporters’ number, both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin utilize traditional but effective strategies. They willingly give interviews, design their websites, participate in TV debates, organize meetings, publish articles, and write books. Hillary’s bestsellers “It takes a village: and other lessons children teach us” (1996), “An invitation to the White House: at home with history” (2000), “Beatrice’s goat” (2001), and “Living History” (2003) testify to this woman’s talents and uniqueness. Palin’s memoir “Going rogue: an American life” (2009) was highly evaluated by critics and American readers. Sarah Palin reveals details of her private life, family circumstances, and stages of the political career and provides a reader with an opportunity to look inside her inner world.

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The only way to avoid mistakes is to do nothing. These women have done a lot. Nevertheless, both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are criticized by opponents for making inappropriate decisions. For instance, Hillary’s health care reform was battled on the Senate floor with Democrats and Republicans. “The bill that passed did not give health care coverage to the millions of Americans who needed it nor did it improve the coverage for Americans who were underinsured” (Epstein 54). Palin’s political convictions concerning abortion and homosexuals are generally identified as extremely conservative. However, their positive influence on the American society is an indisputable fact.

Despite generally accepted opinions, leadership does not mean the power or ability to control what people do. According to Greenleaf (1996),

The simplest definition of a leader is one who goes ahead to guide the way…The essential abilities required to lead – values, goals, competence and spirit – are expressed in two sets of requirements: the ability to set and articulate goals and reach them through the efforts of other people, and the ability to satisfy the people whose judgment must be respected even under stress (Greenleaf 294-295).

The sense of this phrase is possible to expand and examine it in time measurement; then, this principle will define the following strategy: “striving to succeed, think of the future and people’s needs”. It means that it is always necessary to recognize the uniqueness of everyone, remember and consider ethical norms, morals, human rights, and long-term prospects, act according to them, and evaluate previous experience while making current decisions. Recognizing financial, psychological, social, intellectual, and emotional needs of people, a leader provides the means to fill these needs (Adair).

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In conclusion, there are numerous ways to become a leader, such as through formal education, training, development programs, experience, and/or self-study. According to Astin and Astin (2007), leadership is a method that targets the promotion of change. Leadership implies a procedure where movement is evident, as leadership is viewed as associated with leaders who are agents of change. A leader is somebody who initiates the changes. By definition, leadership is a group or collective process, because it involves other people. The concept of leadership that includes fostering changes is innately value-based: all people are possible leaders, and it is a group process (Astin & Astin). However, irrespective of their age and gender, notable leaders always possess unique morals and characteristics.



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